Hearts Mend Hearts, Charleston Heals Through Art

Laura De La Maza and Dianne Tennyson Vincent reached out to the Gibbes Museum after the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church. They wanted to do something to help the community heal and were in the beginning stages of formulating a plan so we suggested bringing in our colleagues from the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and Redux Studios to help brainstorm. Dianne had led an Art of Healing workshop for the Gibbes in 2012, in which students created mandalas, and following the tragedy, she spoke to us about offering this concept to the community as a way to heal. Laura has worked as an art teacher for years and uses mandalas in the classroom. In the last few weeks these women have worked tirelessly to create a series of free workshops to be offered at the Charleston County Public Library on Calhoun Street through the end of September. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about Hearts Mends Hearts.

How did you become involved with art as a healing endeavor?

Dianne: I became interested in art as a way to heal personally while going through a divorce. Intensely personal, I found it easier and more natural to draw what I experienced on an emotional level than to write or talk about it. I began painting again, which I had given up while married. I discovered the images that I was drawn to reflected what I was going through at the time emotionally: landscapes of paths, roads, and desert scenes. While trying to discover my next path, I stumbled into the field of art therapy and eventually went back to graduate school and became a registered art therapist.

Laura: I realized the healing power of art after going through Hurricane Hugo that destroyed my home. Creating mandalas in the evenings by candlelight as there was no electric power, helped calm me as I dealt with loss, natural devastation, and shock. I also began creating mandalas with students as we were all experiencing losses connected to this natural disaster. The very act of producing images or designs within the circle helped us heal from the devastation in our lives. We came together as a group and embraced another school that had been totally lost due to the hurricane. As we worked side by side for several months that school year, we created human healing circles as well as the visual metaphor called a mandala.

mandala workshop

A student’s mandala

Can you tell me more about these healing circles?

Dianne: Healing circles are mandalas. The word mandala comes from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. A mandala is a universal symbol or archetype used in all religions and cultures that means “healing circle,” “completeness” or “sacred circle.” Circles suggest unity, wholeness, completion, and eternity. Circles are universally associated with meditation, healing, and prayer.

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung used mandalas with his clients and himself. He saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self,” and  “expressing the idea of a safe refuge, inner reconciliation and wholeness.”  Jung called mandalas “vessels” into which we project our psyche. Experienced consciously, this message from the unconscious is a means for restoration and growth.

mandala workshop

Students at work

What do you hope these workshops will do for the community?

Dianne: As a witness to the life changing effects of art therapy for over fourteen years as an art therapist, including two trips both to Bosnia and Haiti through the ArtReach Foundation and here at home while in private practice, I am still amazed of the power of making art. Art is a creative, non-threatening way to deal with trauma. Children are less articulate verbally, and are often afraid to express themselves, so the metaphors of art are a powerful, direct means to deal with the intense emotions of horror, loss, sadness, anger, and isolation. Increased self-awareness, decreased anxiety, energy and empowerment increases self-worth and confidence and helps reconcile emotional conflict.  Any age can and will benefit and each participant, one person at a time, will ultimately help heal our community.

Laura: I hope these workshops provide a platform for healing. Our first workshop was on Sunday, July 26th and we had a nice turnout with 16 participants of all ages and races. The attendees were engaged and all shared what they had created for display, and most engaged in the processing afterwards. At both sessions this week, attendees that knew one of the slain members at Emanuel AME came to the library to take part in the workshop. On Sunday, a mother and daughter came, and the young girl had visited the West Ashley branch of the library often, having made the acquaintance of Cynthia Hurd. This 4-year-old asked her mother to share what her drawing was about. It was very moving to hear the mom recount their visits to the library, and their conversations with Miss Cynthia, and how she had encouraged the little girl to love books and to visit the library.

Free Hearts Mend Hearts drop-in sessions are offered at CCPL Main Library on Calhoun Street through the end of September. They are designed to help individuals process their feelings and express emotions in a safe environment.

Sundays from 2-4:30pm

Tuesdays from 5:30-7pm

Thursdays from 5:30-7pm

For more information visit their website at HeartsMendHearts.com

Dianne Tennyson Vincent, MAT, ATR, Registered Art Therapist

Dianne has been creating art since she began painting at age 12. Graduating in Nursing from the Southern Adventist University when she was only 19, she quickly realized life as an OR nurse was not for her, so she went to the College of Charleston for her bachelors in Studio Art and then to the University of South Caroline for her Masters in Art Education. Odd, though fortuitous events landed her a job as Art Therapist at Fenwick Hall Hospital, (a psychiatric-substance abuse hospital.) and from there she went on to complete 30 graduate and two thousand clinical hours to earn her requirements to be a registered art therapist with the American Art Therapy Association.

She has taught art privately since she was 19, and as an elementary, middle and high school art instructor for the Charleston County School District for 14 years. She now runs her Art Connects Art School with her husband while maintaining her private art therapy practice in Mount Pleasant. She promotes art therapy locally through an ongoing series of presentations geared for both professional mental health care givers and the general public, and has done numerous mandala workshops to familiarize the public with the healing power of the mandala.

Laura De La Maza, National Board Certified Teacher, Art

Expressing art through teaching, art making, and creating visual stories defines the work of Laura De La Maza. Influenced by the Caribbean color and landscape where she grew up, De La Maza expresses life’s journey through mandalas, mixed media, and symbol. The spiritual connection expressed in her images defines her art teaching and personal work. De La Maza teaches high school art in the Lowcountry.

Summer Art Camp from our Intern’s Point of View

Naomi Edmondson-Summer Intern, Senior at College of Charleston

Naomi Edmondson-Summer Intern, Senior at College of Charleston

As a college student majoring in Studio Art and Art History, interning at the Gibbes Museum’s Summer Art Camp seemed like the perfect opportunity to excite young minds with art. Growing up, my favorite teachers were my art teachers, and getting the chance to influence a young child was very appealing to me. The camp instructor for this summer, Leonora Dechtiar, provided campers with stimulating and fun projects to explore their creativity.

welcome to our Art Show!

The first of three camp themes was “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” During these weeks, the campers learned about art from different countries such as Egypt, Brazil, China, Morocco, Australia, and India. We started our day by fastening the seatbelts to our pretend airplane on the classroom carpet and landing in a foreign country. Campers were excited to learn about the different art and cultures of all the places we “visited” before stamping their passports after each journey. Campers’ projects included Brazilian Carnival masks, drums, and maracas, African plaster masks, Egyptian Canopic Jars, Indian Mandalas, Japanese Kites, Chinese Dragons, and Australian Dot Paintings.

summer art camp 2015

Campers working with Acrylic to make their own Chinese Dragons

The second theme of camp was “Stories and Puppets.” During these weeks, campers would listen to stories and create artworks inspired by themes and characters in the story. At the end of the week, campers performed a play of The Rainbow Fish, which featured each camper’s uniquely designed fish. I couldn’t help but be impressed as the kids so excitedly delivered their lines perfectly for the room full of parents.

summer art camp 2015

Rainbow fish puppets

Our last theme of camp, “Art and Movement,” was probably most enjoyable for me personally. Leonora instructed the kids in yoga before each project (which proved to be very beneficial and effective in calming the campers down) to focus them on their artwork. Projects created included foam puppets, needle felting, body tracing, and Jackson Pollock inspired splatter painting (which, I must say…the kids thoroughly enjoyed). Throughout the week, campers practiced their yoga moves set to fun children’s songs, and on Friday they performed these impressive, entertaining yoga dances for their parents.

Summer art camp 2015

Leonora instructing campers in their morning yoga

Throughout each week, the children were thrilled to go on field trips to surrounding areas, such as the multiple art galleries on Queen Street and the Pineapple Fountain. After viewing the artwork on display at galleries such as Robert Lange Studios, Horton Hayes Fine Art, Anglin Smith Fine Art, Valentino’s Pottery, and The Atrium, the kids were noticeably more inspired to spend time creating artwork.

summer art camp 2015

Field Trip to local galleries

Working so closely with children eager to fill their hands with paint or clay or anything else has heightened my interest in the art making process and has reminded me of the childlike enthusiasm that every artist should employ when creating art!

summer camp 2015

Naomi Edmondson-Summer Intern, Senior at the College of Charleston

1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, 2015 Short List of Finalists

On June 15, 2015 the Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 announced the short list of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The $10,000 annual prize recognizes a Southern artist who has distinguished him or herself in any media and has made a distinct contribution to the production and understanding of Southern art. The prize, originally given as the Factor prize by Mallory and Elizabeth Factory in 2007, is now overseen by Society 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art’s young patron auxiliary group. The Society 1858 Board of Directors has spent the last few years working to rejuvenate and rebrand the prize, which now has its own website (1858prize.org) and helps the museum to establish long-term relationships with its prize-winning artists.

This year, over 275 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted their work for consideration for the prize. Six artists have been chosen for the short list of finalists, from which one winner will be chosen and announced on September 17 during an event hosted by Society 1858 and the Gibbes Museum of Art. The six artists who have been selected are Aldwyth, Andrea Keys Connell, Kevin Jerome, Everson, George Jenne, Deborah Luster, and Ebony G. Patterson. These six impressive artists were selected by a panel of judges including Charles Ailstock, Society 1858 Board member; Jamieson Clair, Society 1858 Board President; Sonya Clark, artist and 2014 Prize winner; Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Speed Art Museum; Cary Levine, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Mark Sloan, Director and Chief Curator, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art; and Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions at the Gibbes Museum of Art. This year’s finalists include artists who work in a variety of mediums, from photography and film to assemblage, sculpture, and mixed-media installations.

2015 Finalist Bios

Aldwyth
South Carolina artist Aldwyth has worked in relative seclusion for several decades. She creates intricate collages and assemblages, often monumental in scale, from found objects, appropriated images, text, and other elements. Aldwyth was recently honored with a major one person traveling exhibition organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston.

Secrets of my Mind, 2015, by Aldwyth

Secrets of my Mind, 2015, by Aldwyth

Andrea Keys Connell
Sculptor Andrea Keys Connell creates figurative works that challenge conventional notions of monuments, statuary, and figurines. Using clay with other mixed media, her work has a strong narrative and emotive quality. Keys Connell lives in Richmond, Virginia where she serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Un-Home-Like, 2010, by Andra keys Connell

Un-Home-Like, 2010, by Andra keys Connell

Kevin Jerome Everson
Kevin Jerome Everson’s films utilize both scripted and documentary footage to examine the everyday lives of working class African Americans and other people of African descent. A prolific filmmaker, Everson has created both feature-length and short films characterized by a subtle, poetic quality. His work is included in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and is currently on view in the museum’s inaugural exhibition.

Ninety-Three, 2008, by Kevin Jerome Everson

Ninety-Three, 2008, by Kevin Jerome Everson

George Jenne
George Jenne is a video artist who combines moving images with the spoken word to create uniquely narrative films. His work explores the inner psyche of his characters, revealing the complex ideas and emotions underlying each individual. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Jenne currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Spooky Understand (installation detail), 2014, by George Jenne

Spooky Understand (installation detail), 2014, by George Jenne

Deborah Luster
Luster, who lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana, turned to photography as a means to cope with the murder of her mother. She has created thousands of powerful, haunting portraits of prisoners housed in Louisiana. Her recent body of work captures desolate landscapes in New Orleans where murders have occurred.

"One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1998-2003, by Deborah Luster

One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, 1998-2003, by Deborah Luster

Ebony G. Patterson
The work of mixed-media artist Ebony G. Patterson investigates the complex relationships between gender, politics, beauty, race, and ritual in contemporary Jamaican culture. Her artistic practice combines painting, textiles, and installation work, often in large scale. A native of Jamaica, Patterson lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky, where she serves as an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky.

Wata Marassa-Beyond the Bladez, 2014 by Ebony G. Patterson

Wata Marassa-Beyond the Bladez,
2014 by Ebony G. Patterson

“Seeing the prize grow this year—not only in the number of applications, but also in the level of diversity and range of artistic medium—has been like a dream come true for Society 1858,” says Society 1858 President Jamieson Clair.

To learn more about the prize please visit 1858prize.org.

White Gloves Gang with Zinnia Willits, Part II

This is part II of an interview with Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration at the Gibbes Museum and current President of the South Carolina Federation of Museums.

Where did the idea for the White Gloves Gang originate?

The first SCFM White Gloves Gang (named after the protective white gloves many collections professionals wear when handling fragile museum objects,) was held at the Georgetown County Museum as part of the 2012 SCFM Annual Meeting. While I had a general model of how the program should work (based on the Reinforcement Crew) in many ways I can admit now that I was flying by the seat of my pants! I was well aware that our first WGG project was bound to have a few hiccups, but we were not going to learn how to do it unless we tried!

white gloves gang

The WGG working on textiles

Planning the first WGG included finding a host institution and explaining what exactly we wanted to accomplish. This involved building a trusting relationship with the staff at the Georgetown County Museum (GCM) since I basically asked them if my group of volunteers could have carte blanche access to their collections and exhibitions for an entire day! Then Director, Jill Santopietro, could not have been more gracious or enthusiastic about being the first WGG “test case.” After making initial contacts, I completed several site visits to GCM and worked with Jill to identify potential collection and exhibition projects that could be completed in a day. Next I had to advertise the project and gather a volunteer force; I also solicited vendors to donate archival supplies…I don’t think I even had a real budget for the first WGG. My wonderful friends at Hollinger Metal Edge graciously donated supplies for the first WGG. The shipment of hundreds of dollars of donated materials meant so much to the GCM who did not have any budget for these types of essential preservation materials. Other tasks included setting the agenda for project day, communicating the plan to our group of ten collections volunteers, dividing the group into teams, laying out each project and making sure volunteers had the necessary tools and supplies. It was a long day, but I loved every second of it and those first WGG volunteers made incredible progress on exhibits and collections at the GCM. Teams “freshened” exhibits and added protective archival barriers between casework and historic artifacts, created padded hangers on which to store and display fragile textiles, vacuumed (with a special museum-quality vacuum) historic christening gowns to remove layers of dust gathered from being on constant display, created storage containers for objects that needed a “rest” from display, adjusted light levels to better protect light-sensitive, fragile objects and so much more!! After this first experience in 2012, it was evident that the SCFM White Gloves Gang was a viable program to be built and developed.

Tell us something you’ve learned about the challenges of small museums through your work with the White Gloves Gang.

I have learned that all museums, whether large or small, matter to the communities they serve. The collections that small museums maintain are exceedingly important to the people who donated them and the stories they tell are the historical fabric of the town, county or region the museum represents. However, many small museums do not have the appropriate staff or budget to adequately care for or exhibit the objects that are so important to people they serve. A museum’s sole staff member may be the Director, often an individual with excellent administrative experience and leadership skills but minimal (if any) training in collection and exhibition management. In many cases these sole employees spend the majority of their time devising programming and membership initiatives that will ensure the museum can keep the lights on and doors open to survive another day! They know instinctively that the collections and exhibitions need attention, but there is very little time, money or training to devote to the objects that are the very reason for a museums’ existence.

working with textile exhibit at The Museum in Greenwood 2013

The WGG working with textile exhibit at The Museum in Greenwood 2013

However, the SCFM White Gloves Gang program is an excellent resource for these small museum staffs that need collections help; I have seen the benefits and inspiration our projects provide first-hand. The WGG is a tangible manifestation of SCFM’s mission to serve, represent, advocate and promote the best interests of South Carolina museums; the program educates small museums in ways they can make simple, often inexpensive changes to better preserve, and promote the collections they house and the missions they endeavor to uphold. The staffs at all WGG host sites have been grateful for the support and have let us know that watching collections professionals devote an entire day to the display and storage of the museum’s objects was inspirational; in many cases our work resulted in the Director taking future steps to raise funds for a collections manager or to hire an exhibition designer to assist with the way stories are conveyed.  These small, devoted staffs are stretched thin in terms of resources and I view it as SCFM’s responsibility to reach out and help however we can. The WGG provides a statewide network of support and supplies for collections management as well as access to collections professionals that a host site can forever turn to for future advice!

What are the future plans for the White Gloves Gang and or how will this program grow?

SCFM announced this past month that the WGG will be hitting the road! I have wanted to expand the program beyond our annual meeting for some time and have finally moved forward with this endeavor. SCFM member institutions can now apply for a day of WGG services and we hope to send volunteer teams out to complete at least two WGG projects per year in addition to the project at the annual meeting. Our WGG volunteer corps currently numbers around thirty collections professionals from across the state and is growing daily. My goal is to provide any South Carolina museum that desires a day of white glove services the assistance they need! I now have a wonderful White Gloves Gang co-chair, Melissa Jolley, Curator at the Savannah River Site, who assists me with organization and management of each project and the WGG volunteers. What fun (and a relief) it has been to share the responsibility and excitement of connecting people and projects with one of my SCFM peers! I have also recently seen an influx of museum studies students and non-collections professionals joining the WGG volunteer group; I love this! We pair those that want to learn about collections management with the seasoned professionals and in this way, each WGG project becomes an opportunity to train others and learn from peers…its win, win!

Recently the SCFM Executive Committee voted unanimously to appropriate funds to the SCFM WGG thereby officially adding the program to the annual budget. I will continue to work with our generous partners in the archival supply industry to provide donations of necessary project supplies and hope to eventually secure a lead sponsor to ensure the program’s future (naming opportunity anyone???) I will continue to engage South Carolina museum professionals to volunteer and participate in the program and encourage all SCFM members to get involved and give back. I am so proud of the SCFM White Gloves initiative and all those who have participated and supported us over the years. I am hopeful that our program will continue to grow and will serve as a model program for other state museum associations. South Carolina museums matter! Their collections and stories are important and SCFM wants to support these museums in any way it can!

Amanda Breen, Rebecca Sailor, and Zinnia Willits

Amanda Breen, Rebecca Sailor, and Zinnia Willits at the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM) conference.

Thank you Zinnia for taking the time to share this story with us! For more information about volunteering with the White Gloves Gang or in requesting a visit from the WGG, visit the SCFM website.

 

 

A Community United, a conversation with organizer Mickey Bakst

 

A Community United

A Community United

Mickey Bakst, General Manager of the Charleston Grill, has done it again. He has reached out to the Charleston food and beverage community to ask for their help in honoring the victims, families and congregation of Mother Emanuel AME church with a gathering bringing together the people of Charleston. The event will be at the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel on July 9, 2015. Silent auction bidding on a variety of luxury items will be available to supporters around the country beginning on July 3 at Noon and ending Midnight on July 9.

You have a passion for philanthropy and for helping those in need. You are the mastermind behind successful charities including Chefs Across America, Benefit for Katrina, and Dine for Nine. In 2014, the Gibbes Museum presented you with the James S. Gibbes Philanthropy award to recognize those efforts. Can you tell me where that passion came from?

Mickey Bakst

Angela Mack presenting Mickey Bakst with the 2014 James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award at the Annual Meeting.

Honestly I am not sure. I was once asked why do you do those things and my response was “why not?” It seems to me we all have gifts that would enable us to help others around us. The question becomes not can you but will you? I feel strongly that I have been given some certain gifts and I feel a responsibility to use those gifts as effectively as I can. There are many people who have amazing abilities to help others but choose not to. I choose to!

Tell us about the A Community United event. What restaurants are involved? Share some details about the silent auction. 

There are over 50 restaurants and beverage purveyors involved so to list them would be a bit tedious. All of the major restaurants in town are involved. The event will be a stroll around somewhat like we do for the Gibbes Street Party. The program will consist of the Mark Sterbank Spiritual Hymn group as well as a gospel group called the Low Country Voices. We will also have members of the Emanuel victim’s families, as well as other members of the church. We have given the church 200 free invitations. Reverend Goff, who did Reverend Pinckney’s service will preside over the event. We also have some pretty powerful presentations planned. Finally there will be over 200 items at a silent and on line auction so please tell your members to bring their phones!

What do you hope will come out of this event?

A little help for the family members and some unity for this community! This fund will donate 100% of the proceeds directly to the families.

In order to bid in the silent auction, you must register a credit card. If at the end of the auction, you wish to pay with check or cash, you will be given the option to do so. To make a DONATION, text 3000 to 843-606-5995 and follow the text prompts.

A Community United

Thursday July 9

6:30- 9:30

Charleston Place Grand Ballroom

Tickets $200

To purchase tickets and to view the silent auction items, please go to this website.

 

The White Gloves Gang with Zinnia Willits, part 1

How long have you been involved in SCFM?

Though originally from Chicago, Illinois, I have been part of the South Carolina Museum community since my grad school days in the Public History Program at the University of South Carolina almost 15 years ago! While life’s twists and turns took me out of South Carolina for a few years, I returned in 2001 and have been at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston since 2003 where I manage the art collection and oversee logistics for the museum’s active exhibition and loan programs.  At the request of my friend Jill Koverman, a true force in South Carolina museums who sadly passed away several years ago, I joined the South Carolina Federation of Museum’s (SCFM) Professional Development Committee (PDC) in 2010 and have been involved with the organization ever since.

Can you describe why it’s important as a museum professional to have an active role in organizations like SCFM?

Professional development opportunities and responsibilities have played a pivotal role in my personal career growth since my entrée into the museum field so many years ago. Our profession is constantly changing. New standards for collections care, exhibition design, curatorial research, digitization of information, use of social media, educational programming, membership tracking, and every other aspect of museum work are being discussed daily on list-servs, blogs, and at various gatherings of museum professionals. Museum staff need high levels of knowledge and expertise to continue to add value to the communities they serve. Playing an active role in professional organizations, and attending conferences and relevant workshops provides opportunities for peer engagement, expansion of one’s knowledge base, and information that can be put into practice immediately. I am constantly beating the professional development drum about the importance of making time and finding funds to attend professional training opportunities that are essential to career development and remind us that our individual work contributes to something larger including the preservation and promotion of the humanities! As I say often (to anyone who will listen,) nobody will ever care about your professional growth as much as you do!

The White Gloves Gang at the Marion County Museum

The White Gloves Gang at the Marion County Museum

Where did the idea for the White Gloves Gang originate?

The Registrars Committee (RC) of the American Alliance of Museums has been operating a similar program called the Reinforcement Crew since 2007.  This annual event offers expertise, people-power and support to museums and organizations that need assistance with collections-based projects, and coincides with the AAM Annual Meeting. I have friends who were instrumental in developing the Reinforcement Crew and have always been an advocate of seasoned museum professionals “giving back” to the field. I was intrigued with the concept and as I became more involved in the South Carolina museum community, it became clear that a volunteer program similar to the Reinforcement Crew could provide real benefit to the many small museums and cultural centers that dot our state. Once I was in a leadership position and had an opportunity to move the idea for a White Gloves Gang program forward, I went for it! SCFM’s leadership has a long history of embracing program ideas suggested by the membership…even my crazy ideas. That being said, one lesson you learn early on is that if you want your program to have legs, you, the idea person, have to put in the work to get it off the ground!

Stay tuned for next week’s part two of the White Gloves Gang….

Lighting the Gibbes Museum, Q&A with Anita Jorgensen

Anita Jorgensen, IESNA, IALD, LEED, LC has been practicing architectural lighting design in New York for over twenty years. Her background in art history and theatrical lighting design brings a strong sense of aesthetics and drama to her lighting approach. Her hands-on experience gained from extensive exhibition lighting design work translates into specifications for lighting systems which not only meet the immediate lighting requirements, but also provide for durability, ease of maintenance, and long term flexibility. Anita was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work with the Gibbes Museum renovation.

2015 Gibbes Renderings

Gibbes Museum of Art, Preliminary façade lighting

How did you learn about the Gibbes Museum? I worked with Jeff Daly at The Metropolitan Museum for a number of years while he was the Head of the Department. When Jeff opened Jeff Daly Design, we worked on several projects together including: the Ringling Museum of Art; the annual Winter Antiques Show in New York; Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, RI; and others. In 2012 Jeff suggested I visit the Gibbes Museum and discuss its lighting needs with Angela Mack. Angela brought AJLD on board and I am happy to report that the Gibbes renovation has been a fabulous project with a fantastic team!

How did you get involved in lighting design? Give us a little information about what led you down this career path.

While studying Fine Arts and Art History in undergraduate school, I became aware of the work of renowned theatrical lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, who has designed for extensively for dance, drama and opera. Her work inspired me to pursue a career in theatrical lighting design. During my graduate studies at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, I became intrigued with the field of architectural lighting design. After five years with architectural lighting design firm Fisher Marantz Stone, who is best known for designing “Towers of Light” after the 911 twin towers incident, an opportunity arose to work as a lighting designer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Design Department that I could not pass up. The projects I was involved with at the Metropolitan ranged from temporary exhibitions, large-scale renovations of entire wings, extensive custom case work, as well as exterior façade lighting.

After working on staff at the Metropolitan for a number of years, I began my own practice, Anita Jorgensen Lighting Design (AJLD).

What are the challenges with lighting museums? Please give examples. How can good lighting transform museum space?

One of the great challenges of designing lighting for museums is balancing art conservation standards with visual clarity. Among the many aspects to consider are the control of daylight while balancing supplemental glare free electric light. When designing the new lighting system for the East Gallery at The Frick Collection, which included both daylight and electric light, we completed an extensive mockup process to determine the optimal method for controlling the quantity of daylight entering the galleries in combination with supplemental LED lighting to highlight the artwork. The mockup process gives the team an opportunity to actually see and test the results of our research findings. We did the same for the Gibbes Museum where we reviewed the ability of various lighting sources to render paintings accurately. During a side by side lighting comparison in the galleries, it was unanimously decided that the track mounted luminaires would use 3,000 Kelvin LED sources. LED lamps have the great advantage of emitting no ultra violet radiation, consuming only 10 watts each as opposed to 50 watts and last more than seven times longer than halogen.

FRICK East Gallery

FRICK Museum East Gallery

Another important consideration when designing for museums are issues of conservation. For example all of the windows need to be properly fitted with screens and filtering film to reduce the level of light entering the galleries and to block the damaging ultraviolet portion of the incoming daylight.

The second source of illumination in galleries is typically a fully flexible overhead track lighting system which is often the primary source for lighting art. For the first time, the track lighting in the new Gibbes Museum renovation will be energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) track mounted luminaires. After all of the artwork is installed, the gallery lighting will go through a final fine-tuning process. During this stage, the exact lighting intensity levels for each object will be specified.

We also recently completed an exterior night-time lighting mockup for the garden where we reviewed lighting the garden with cool light mimicking moonlight vs. warm candle light effect. We also demonstrated illuminating the trees from below (uplighting) vs. locating lights up in the trees pointed downwards filtering through the leaves that created patterns of light on the ground much like the light coming from a full moon.

What can the community expect to ‘see’ with the renovated Gibbes?

The visitor will be able to see the fabulous Gibbes Museum art collection rendered in a crisp new glare-free light. The galleries will be brighter and more daylight will enter the building giving the visitor a greater connection to the outside.

Below is a listing of Anita’s more memorable projects:

  • Frick West Gallery, East Gallery: designed a new lighting system that integrates invisibly with the museum’s landmark interiors
West Gallery, 2010 (new lighting installed)

West Gallery, 2010 (new lighting installed)

  • Metropolitan Museum Great Hall: recreation of the original McKim Meade and White pendants
  • Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets: a conference center and trading floor

Art Educator of the Week, Barbie Kratovil

Barbie Kratovil, Eye Spy Art

Barbie Kratovil with Eye Spy Students at the City Gallery

Why is art an important part of learning?

Art is an essential component of the Humanities, and visually integrates the historical, political, religious and commercial morals and values of a culture. It is one of the highest forms of expression in any given period of civilization.

While art can be whimsical, its highest forms are the result of an intellectual process. It’s multi-faceted and an artist, in creating a work of art; employs through his/her technique: logic, spatial relationships, math, science-all of which are building blocks in one’s education.

How long have you been teaching, and why did you get involved in teaching?

I was an Art History major in college and art has always been my great interest. I was a docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 18 years, before moving to Charleston; and have been a docent at the Gibbes for 5 years. The combination of being educated by the curators about their fabulous collections, and in turn, imparting this knowledge to school groups, is rewarding on so many levels.

What is a favorite memory of introducing a student to the arts?

The wonderful moments, which as a museum educator that one cherishes, are when a student looks at a work of art and becomes empowered to explain what they see, why they like or dislike it, and what it means to them.

education

Eye Spy students enjoy a tour of the Gibbes led by a museum docent

Museums are educational powerhouses. Did you know:

  • Museums spend more than $2 billion a year on education. The typical museum devotes three quarters of its education budget specifically to K–12 students.
  • Museums receive more than 55 million visits every year from students in school groups.
  • Museums create educational programs in math, science, art, literacy, language arts, history, civics and government, economics and financial literacy, geography and social studies, often tailored to the needs of state and local curriculum standards.
  • Each year, museums provide more than 18 million instructional hours for educational programs such as guided tours for students, staff visits to schools, school outreach through science vans and other traveling exhibits, and professional development for teachers.

Read the full report about museums and the future of education from the American Alliance for Museums.

To learn more about Gibbes Museum education programs, visit our Gibbes Educators Facebook page.

Alice’s Wonderland, a trip to Crystal Bridges Museum

The Gibbes’ Fellows members had an Arkansas adventure to “Alice’s wonderland.” With their fine details and accompanied by Gibbes Executive Director, Angela Mack and Private Events Manager, Jena Clem, our group journeyed to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum founded by Walmart heiress, Alice Walton! Many of us discussed the global reach of Walmart and how its suppliers impact the community. At the chic 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville green penguins greeted us with a basketball hoop tree sculpture, generating many smiles!

Green Penguins at 21c museum hotel

Green Penguins at 21c museum hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas

The evening exposed the Gibbes’ group to the superb collection of American folk art in the handsome home of private collectors, Becky and Bob Alexander. The juxtaposition of an expressive Edgefield face jug with a nuanced New Hope George Nakashima bench and Native American textiles reflected an edited, personal evolvement from their earlier collection of advertising pieces. Later that night we had a private dinner at 21c and the trio of table rounds at the hotel dinner were framed by great conversation with new friends and interesting art!

trails at Crystal bridges

Woodland Trails surrounding Crystal Bridges

The woodlands approach to Crystal Bridges was a wonderful prelude to the clarity of the catenary curves of architect, Moshe Safdie’s structure.  Alice Walton’s vision of architecture spanning ravine ponds and streams was astounding to experience!  Our arrival at Crystal Bridges was met with the movement of a striking kinitic sculpture by George Rickey  and the welcoming words of Director Rod Bigelow.

Curator Mindy Besaw then relayed her American art expertise as we walked through the galleries.  I was taken by the luminous wall of Martin Johnson Heade’s “Sixteen Gems of Brazil“and the brilliant jewels of tropical exoticism!  A highlight of our lunch was a visit from the gracious and grounded Alice Walton, who stopped by to say hello.  We then enjoyed The Albright Knox Museum’s VAN GOGH TO ROTHKO exhibit with rare insight provided by Angela.

crystal bridges curator led tour

Curator led tour of the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges

The late afternoon saw many of us seeking the Crystal Spring (the natural spring for which the Museum is named.) and perspectives of the Frank Lloyd Wright house (currently being reassembled from a New Jersey site).  Thoughts of Fallingwater surfaced… (A National Historic Landmark house, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, that was built over a waterfall.) Though Bear Run may have Bentonville beat with volume of water, Arkansas aced Pennsylvania with access-for-all in rural regions to vivid art.  Sculptures of Robert Indiana to James Turrell (Love to light!) enhanced gardens to crystal grotto.

A stroll through the town of Bentonville revealed a festival setting up on the square and the facade of the original Walton’s.  An ode to the finesse of Sam Walton as merchant with his sharp focus on all facets of marketing and customer relations, family photographs relayed how much only-daughter-Alice has her mom’s features. What a magical legacy the Waltons wrought! We concluded with a lovely dinner at James at the Mill overlooking a historic mill.

Culturally-rich Charleston captivates post-Bentonville as our Gibbes Museum of Art coalesces!

Shannon Gillespie, Gibbes Board Member and Guest Blogger

2015 AAM Museum Expo and Conference

This week several Gibbes staff members traveled to Atlanta to attend the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting and Expo. The theme for this year’s event was “The Social Value of Museums; Inspiring Change.” There were over 180 program sessions over four days and each one of came away filled with new ideas and inspiration!

Rebecca Sailor, curator of education, says highlights from the conference include networking with other museum educators and learning how others continue to combine history and art to encourage school group visitation and programming. Before leaving town she was able to meet with some of the education staff at the High Museum of Art to learn more about their programming. 

Sara Arnold says that from a curatorial standpoint, it was inspiring learn-in this increasingly digital world-that original objects, artworks, and  the human stories they tell, remain an important and valued resource in our communities. However, museums today must strive to relate to their audiences by communicating these stories in compelling ways and in a variety of formats. Doug Hegley, director of media technology, Minniapolis Museum of Art, commented that “To remain viable, museums must rethink not only what types of knowledge they create, but how/with whom they create it, and finally how they communicate it.”* While digital devices will become more and more a part of our museum experience, when done properly, it will be the scholarly content and the original work of art, rather than the technology,  that is the star. Our goal with the reinstallation of the Gibbes permanent collection has been to communicate compelling and relatable stories for our visitors. We hope that our exhibitions, museum publications, labels and text panels, and any digital content we design will capture these captivating stories and inspire our visitors to engage with the museum on a regular basis. Sara says that the conference offered a refreshing opportunity to see the variety of ways in which museums are rediscovering their roles and their relevancy in the twenty first century.

Zinnia Willits at the AAM

Zinnia Willits at the AAM learning about 3D printing for the visually impaired

For the past several years Zinnia has served as the Fellowship Chair for the Registrars Committee (RC) of the American Alliance of Museums and holds a seat on the larger AAM Fellowship Task Force. As such, she is directly responsible for reviewing fellowship applications and offering travel stipends to collections care professionals to attend the Annual Meeting. Each year at AAM, she has the satisfaction of presenting the fellowship awards and meeting the recipients, many of whom would not be able to attend the Annual Meeting without a travel stipend. This year she presented nine travel fellowships to RC members and matched each recipient with a conference mentor from the RC Executive Board. While Zinnia took full advantage of all of AAM’s sessions and networking opportunities, meeting the fellowship recipients and seeing the direct value of her professional development endeavors to the larger museum community was one of the most gratifying aspects of attending AAM.

I was grateful to be awarded a marketing fellowship to attend the conference, and learned a great deal about building and engaging museum audiences. I attended a particularly informative session with the authors of “Magnetic: the Art and Science of Engagement,” and the Director of Communications from the Wallace Foundation who spoke about best practices for building arts audiences. 
Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager

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